Books I’ve Read (and My Characters Recommend) in 2017

As of this post’s drafting, I’ve read* 73 books** this year.

*(or listened to on audio)

**(not counting shorts stories, or the bits of flash fiction I wrote myself, or the draft of Part 2 of #CamelotWIP, or the “Inspired” novels I’ve reread in editorial prep for their release next March…)

Do I remember all of them? No. Have I reviewed all of them? Hardly. Weren’t there a couple of other books I totally told myself I’d read but have yet to get around to? Why, yes. But ignoring all that, I still call this a win of a year for reading. And some of the people in my head got to benefit from the words I consumed as well.

Since I plan to give my life-in-upheaval a break by not blogging during December (apart from that one post I’mma schedule for the first), now’s the time if ever there was to do a recap post of sorts.

I’m not gonna do one, though. My characters are.

Please welcome Will Scarlet, Allyn-a-Dale, Loren McCaughley and Sir Bedivere (all of Outlaws of Avalon fame), and Edgwyn Wyle (from the Wilderhark Tales)! Which books would y’all like to spotlight?

Will Scarlet’s top pick = “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” (Mackenzi Lee)

Character Rec'd - Will

“This was SUCH A ROMP, you guys! I wanted Danielle to grab it for me the moment I heard the premise – which she couldn’t actually do, since the book wasn’t even out yet at the time, but it showed up at the library eventually! Monty (the main character, yo) is just ENTIRELY ME. Y’know, if I’d been born in 18th-century England to an awful father, as opposed to 12th-century England to a father I have no memory of. So yeah. This book. My fave. Hands down.”

Honorable mention(s) = “The Alloy of Law” / “Shadows of Self” (Brandon Sanderson)

“Also entirely me: Wayne. Y’know, if I were a cheerful kleptomaniac whose brilliant brain makes no sense. Which I am. So obviously I love him. He is the best. Also, Sanderson’s Mistborn books are just awesome. Amazing world-building. Plots like whoa. And did I mention Wayne. We’ve still gotta get our hands on the next book in the series, though, so NOBODY SPOIL IT.”

Allyn-a-Dale’s top pick = “The Hearts We Sold” (Emily Lloyd-Jones)

Character Rec'd - Allyn

“A girl made desperate from abuse sells her heart to an enigmatic demon, meaning she’s now under contract to battle interdimensional portals and the creatures that lurk within. #Relatable The love interest was nice. The narrative voice was casually decent. I liked the parts that hurt.”

Honorable mention(s) = “A Conjuring of Light” (V.E. Schwab) / “Strange the Dreamer” (Laini Taylor)

“More pain! ^o^ At least one of these made Danielle cry; I don’t recall whether the other did, too, or if she only ached. And sorry-not-sorry, but after everything she put me through in my last book, she owes me this means of catharsis.”

Loren McCaughley’s top pick = “Robin Hood” (J. Walker McSpadden)

Character Rec'd - Loren

“Speaking as someone who knows her way around a classic Robin Hood novel, I felt this version was particularly enjoyable. Like, up there with Howard Pyle’s; definitely more fun than Roger Lancelyn Green’s. (We’ll see how it stacks up against Henry Gilbert’s when we get there. Fingers crossed we start reading it on the plane when Danielle leaves for California!) If you’re a fellow Sherwood junkie, do it.”

Honorable mention(s) = “Remnants” (Stacy Xavier)

“Yeah, okay, this and ‘Ivanhoe’ were the titles that Danielle was going to read this month, but then… didn’t?? And both of them have Robin Hood in them, so I’m less than overjoyed at the holdup. But she’ll definitely make a point of reading ‘Remnants’ eventually, because it’s a Hood retelling, inspired by a Hood photo shoot she was in, written by a fellow Bristol Renaissance Faire cast member. In other words, how could she not?”

(Related note: There’s a giveaway for this book going on right now. Just sayin’.)

Sir Bedivere’s top pick = “The Fall of Arthur” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Character Rec'd - Bedivere

“Vexingly, the poem isn’t even finished, so the book’s padded out with the author’s son’s speculations and analyses and other stuff that is not the father of modern fantasy waxing lyrical on my king’s demise. Still, speaking for the Camelot demographic of Avalon Faire, if it’s relevant to the lives we lost, we’re reading it. And this was an interesting take on it all, if incomplete. It left my soul wanting, and isn’t that just what thinking on our fallen kingdom’s all about?”

Honorable mention(s) = “Yvain, the Knight of the Lion” (M.T. Anderson and Andrea Offermann)

“Yippee, more Camelot – this time in graphic novel form. Arthur was kind of worthless in this one, as were… wow, pretty much all the men, really. Sorry, damsels and dames, you deserved better. But the lion was on his A-game, the story was about on par for a medieval ballad, and the illustrations made things worthwhile.”

And speaking of Wyles: Edgwyn, take us home!

Edgwyn Wyle’s top pick = “Murder, Magic, and What We Wore” (Kelly Jones)

Character Rec'd - Edgwyn

“A Regency-era spy novel with a focus on fashion! As a tailor, I was very much drawn to main character Annis’s attention to one’s attire and its making. And then – (this is in the book’s blurb, right? It’s not spoiling to speak of it? Ah, good) – she discovers she has a magical sewing talent! Imagine my delight. ^_^ I was easily enough able to predict most of the plot twists, but it was good fluffy fun, for all that.”

Honorable mention(s) = “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale” (Danielle E. Shipley)

“This late in the year, Danielle’s mostly forgotten she released this novel back in early spring. But that’s in part why she keeps me around: To remember things for her. Thus do I recall this charming love story – a fine match for my fairytale heart. She’s never sure which book in the Outlaws trilogy to name as her favorite, but mine is without a doubt this one.”

Awwwww, thanks, Edg! And thanks to you all, for sharing your literary opinions.

How about YOU, readers? Which tales have filled your year, so far? What do you think you’ll read next? Discuss in the comments!

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A Bit of Beauty in the Midst of My Mess

I could be posting about the massive transitions going down in my life, these days. Or I could finally get around to posting the [currently half-written] call-out review I promised back in my Printer’s Row recap. Or I could try to ignore all these sources of stress and do that one thing I actually enjoy: Sharing stuff about my characters. :DDD

C’mon, I gotta go with that one. I found a meme and everything!

Beautiful People Meme

How the Beautiful People meme works, according to Cait @ Paper Fury:

If you’ve never joined in before, THERE ARE NO RULES!! Haha, just kidding. There are rules which basically include (a) link back to this post, (b) include the blog button somewhere in your post, and (c) consider life as a werewolf.

Done, done, and… wow, as life-altering disorders go, lycanthropy would probably not be the worst.

Anyhow, there are character questions to answer! And I hope y’all have been good little DEShipley fans and read Outlaws of Avalon 2, because I’m giving the spotlight to one of the new residents of Avalon Faire, Loren McCaughley, circa right before Book 3 opens.

So Loren, if I may…

What are they addicted to/can’t live without?

“Robin Hood books,” she confesses. “It’s actually horrible. Put a new tale in my line of vision (or an old tale I’ve read a zillion times), and all is lost – most notably, my sense of time and productivity.”

Name 3 positive and 3 negative qualities about your character.

“I’ll handle this one,” Marion Hood volunteers, because gal pal privileges. “Positives: Unapologetic sense of self, good work ethic when it comes to her areas of interest – (you should see her progress in lute and quarterstaff!) – and, as all Merry Men must be, she’s a jolly team player. Hmm, as for what I’ve observed of the negative side… Has a tendency to let problems go farther than she should before properly addressing them with the appropriate party. Views the world through a bit of a self-centered lens, on the whole. And, well, she’s an actor. You know how they are.”

Loren snorts. “Says she who’s spent the last 30-some summers doing what, now?”

“Um, playing Maid Marion?” she laughs. “I’d hardly call that acting.”

“A Faire point.”

(Seeing what Loren did there, Marion throws up the finger guns.)

Are they holding onto something they should get rid of?

Loren shrugs. “Maybe the odd delusional fantasy or two. But come on, I’m already living in a hidden Faerie land, married to a superhuman from another dimension. Why shouldn’t I someday get the chance to rob somebody on the forest highway, too? Apart from the law, which would obviously be outside the point.”

If 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where do they fall on the scale?

“Where does an organized semi-mess fall? I’ll take a 6.”

What most frustrates them about the world they live in?

“Do you know how hard it is to not tell my sister that I hang out with the actual Robin Hood?!”

How would they dress for a night out? How would they dress for a night in?

“Well I mean, that depends on the venue. First non-date with Allyn versus first date-for-realsies – totally different looks for totally different destinations. But in general, probably dark jeans (or jeggings, let’s not pretend), shoes with some shine to ‘em, a flowy top, and moderate bling. If we’re not leaving the house, I vote jammie bottoms and nerdy tees.”

How many shoes do they own, and what kind?

“A few dressy flats, some basic sneakers. WAY too many boots. Same with the sandals.”

Do they have any pets? What pet do they WISH they had?

“No pets, though at this point, I’d take a unicorn.”

Legend proofIs there something or someone that they resent? Why and what happened?

“Ugh. Probably. But according to Marion, I’m not likely ready to deal with it. We’ll see if anything explodes in Book 3.”

What’s usually in their fridge or pantry?

“Takeout leftovers. I am here for reheated whatever, so long as somebody else made it. The kitchen is not my domain.”

*

Thank you, Loren! (And Marion, briefly. ;D) And for the readers currently going, “Man, I really gotta get caught up on the Outlaws books,” you’re not wrong! Only two months ‘til the trilogy concludes with “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”. Which means, oh boy, I better get crackin’ on sweeping through my proof copy. …in addition to everything else on my plate. I’ll keep you guys informed once I scrape together the wherewithal. Ciao for now!